Title: Kaplan–Meier survival functions by higher education attainment and CGG repeat number.
Legend: (a) women with CGG repeats of 25 or lower; (b) women with CGG repeats between 26 and 40: (c) Women with CGG repeats of 41 or higher.
Citation: Hong, J., Dembo, R. S., DaWalt, L. S., Baker, M. W., Berry-Kravis, E., & Mailick, M. R. (2023). Mortality in Women across the FMR1 CGG Repeat Range: The Neuroprotective Effect of Higher Education. Cells, 12(17), 2137. https://doi.org/10.3390/cells12172137
Abstract: Higher education has been shown to have neuroprotective effects, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, slowing the rate of age-related cognitive decline, and is associated with lower rates of early mortality. In the present study, the association between higher education, fragile X messenger ribonucleoprotein 1 (FMR1) cytosine-guanine-guanine (CGG) repeat number, and mortality before life expectancy was investigated in a population cohort of women born in 1939. The findings revealed a significant interaction between years of higher education and CGG repeat number. Counter to the study’s hypothesis, the effects of higher education became more pronounced as the number of CGG repeats increased. There was no effect of years of higher education on early mortality for women who had 25 repeats, while each year of higher education decreased the hazard of early mortality by 8% for women who had 30 repeats. For women with 41 repeats, the hazard was decreased by 14% for each additional year of higher education. The interaction remained significant after controlling for IQ and family socioeconomic status (SES) measured during high school, as well as factors measured during adulthood (family, psychosocial, health, and financial factors). The results are interpreted in the context of differential sensitivity to the environment, a conceptualization that posits that some people are more reactive to both negative and positive environmental conditions. Expansions in CGG repeats have been shown in previous FMR1 research to manifest such a differential sensitivity pattern.
Investigator: Marsha R. Mailick, PhD
About the Lab: The Lifespan Family Research Program is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge about families who have a member with intellectual and developmental disabilities with a special emphasis on how these families change over the lifespan. Our program of research focuses on autism, fragile X syndrome and other developmental and mental health conditions. We study cohorts of families who have generously volunteered to be members of our longitudinal research, and we are extremely grateful to them for their continued participation. In addition, we study representative population cohorts including the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) Study, and Personalized Medicine Research Project of the Marshfield Clinic.